Monday, January 15, 2007

What Next?

OTTAWA, (AFP) - Canada's public broadcaster CBC hopes to lighten religious tensions between this country's Christian majority and Muslims with a new sitcom, "Little Mosque on the Prairie."

The show is a parody of the acclaimed US drama "Little House on the Prairie" (1974-1983), starring Michael Landon and Melissa Gilbert, about the life and adventures of the Ingalls family in the 19th century American West.

But instead of raising pitchforks, tumbling down hills and selling eggs at the general store, this fictional Muslim family struggles to find its place in Canada's vast western prairies in a post-September 11, 2001 world.

CBC spokesman Jeff Keay said Monday the broadcaster has ordered eight episodes and will begin airing them in January.

"The producers recognize that this is a potentially sensitive topic," Keay said.

The Roman Catholic pope Benedict XVI's recent comments on Islam, an alleged Toronto terror plot foiled in June and attacks on mosques have divided Canadians lately, he acknowledged.

"But, the show is a comedy. We hope people will laugh," he said.

Liverpool-born filmmaker Zarqa Nawaz wrote and produced the satire.

Her previous films include "BBQ Muslims" about two brothers who are suspected of being terrorists after their barbecue blows up, and "Real Terrorists Don't Belly Dance."

Her production company is called Fundamentalist Films; its motto is to put the "fun back into fundamentalism," according to its website.


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